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First all-private astronaut team aboard space station heads for splashdown
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The first all-private astronaut crew to fly aboard the International Space Station (ISS) headed for splashdown Monday off the coast of Florida, wrapping up a two-week mission that NASA has touted as a landmark in commercial spaceflight.
A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying the four-man team of Houston-based startup Axiom Space Inc began its return flight about 9 p.m. EDT Sunday (0100 Monday GMT) as it undocked from the space station orbiting about 250 miles (420 km) above Earth.
The Crew Dragon was expected to parachute into the Atlantic around 1 p.m. EDT on Monday (1700 GMT), capping a 16-hour ride home from orbit that had been postponed for several days because of unfavorable weather.
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The multinational Axiom team was led by Spanish-born retired NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, 63, the company's vice president for business development. His second-in-command was Larry Connor, 72, a technology entrepreneur and aerobatics aviator from Ohio designated the mission pilot.
Joining them as "mission specialists" were investor-philanthropist and former Israeli fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe, 64, and Canadian businessman and philanthropist Mark Pathy, 52.
Launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on April 8, they spent 15 days aboard the space station with the seven regular, government-paid ISS crew members: three American astronauts, a German astronaut and three Russian cosmonauts.